'The world feels hostile and unsafe.' COVID-19 could kill me, and I'm asking for kindness.


It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.

From a person who works in mental health and is therefore intensely curious about the actions of humans, and is also living with stage 4 colon cancer and having three-day chemotherapy treatment fortnightly, these are crazy days indeed.

I’m a pretty level-headed and sensible person. And I tend to be positive. I was originally observing responses to the worsening coronavirus play out with detachment, and even a mild sense of bemusement that this would quickly pass. Until things started to feel less funny-crazy and more sinister-crazy and I realised that things were not passing and were becoming very serious.

Watch: Mamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most asked questions about COVID-19. Post continues below. 

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Living with cancer means being permanently prudent, which I am but not ridiculously so. In the past four years, my treatment teams have managed my health and illness extremely closely and I had no idea until now just how much I depended on that. It made me feel safe. Secure. As though I never knew there was an alternative way to feel.

Suddenly, the world feels a lot more hostile. It’s survival of the fittest, Lord of the Flies. Overnight I feel like an alien in a world that sort of looks recognisable and familiar but isn’t. I suddenly feel very unsafe. And, it must be said, a little bit left for dead.

Like so many Australians, I’m finding the panic-buying at supermarkets and pharmacies all over the country hard to watch and harder to understand.

Yes, I know experts are saying panic-buying is a natural, primal response to fear and uncertainty. But I still don’t get it. If that’s a primal response, why are some people’s brains able to consider and evaluate the situation and over-ride it, because logically, it’s an enormous over-reaction?


Hypothetically, if a relatively healthy individual had to be quarantined tomorrow, everything they could ever need could be delivered to their front door without interacting with a soul, including grocery shopping, pre-prepared frozen meals or meal kits and Uber Eats. And that’s if they don’t have friends or family to help them. So what’s with the mindless buy-everything-you-can-and-to-hell-with-everyone-else group-think? While it seems to practically be a blood sport to some, it’s a bit more than that to others.

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For people like me, and there are many of us, contracting COVID-19 is life-threatening. My illness means that my lungs, liver, abdominal wall and colon are all compromised. I also have pretty much low or no immunity at any given time.

So at this point, I’m not feeling very optimistic. I cannot buy hand sanitiser because there is none to buy. I know that sounds like a pimple on a pumpkin given my situation – but it would be good to have when I’ve used an ATM or self-serve at Woolies (a couple of hotspots where the virus could spread easily).

I can’t even risk going to the supermarket because of the crowds anymore, no matter what time of the day.

I know people are scared – young and old, healthy or not. But we are living in a society and by definition that makes us all part of a huge team. We need to act like it and think beyond ourselves a little bit.

Kindness, consideration and generosity of spirit could do wonders right now.

That’s all I’m asking for.

Feature Image: Getty.